Letting songs live

FRIGS’ new record is ready to grow on the road

Toronto four-piece FRIGS refuses to let their sound be hemmed in by vague descriptors and name-dropping comparisons, and, instead, liken their songs to living creatures that grow with each performance.

“We were joking a while ago, (about) people describing our music as spooky, (which) was happening for a long time, and we don't really feel like that makes any sense,” vocalist Bria Salmena says.

“A lot of people will compare us to other bands, which happens naturally, but they’ll compare me specifically to a very generic female rock singer - like Courtney Love or something - and that’s happened a couple times, and I’m pretty sick of that.”

While descriptions fall short, the reputation of FRIGS’ live show precedes them and has been lauded by their new label, Arts & Crafts, and in publications like Exclaim. It was their live show that first captivated Stefan Wolf, vocalist for the band Beth (which is opening up for FRIGS’ April 1 show at the Good Will Social Club.)

“I saw them at a house show at Sled Island maybe two years ago, and I’d never heard of them before, and they just basically blew me out of the water,” Wolf says. After checking FRIGS’ schedule, he found they had a show planned for Winnipeg on June 19, 2017, and joined them on that bill at DIY venue The Animal Shelter.

FRIGS’ latest album, Basic Behaviour, was released in late February. Selmana says with past releases, the songs had been road-tested and developed, but some of the newer tracks from this album are much younger creations.

“The newer songs honestly didn’t have a lot of time to live before they were recorded, songs like “Solid State,” I recorded and wrote those lyrics on the spot in the studio,” Salmena says. “It’s a lot more scary to write a song, record it and send it out into the world without having played it.”

Beth’s latest self-titled album released last May was also tinged with fear. While describing the record as a living being, Wolf says it would “be a goddamn snake, is what it would be.”

“I have a severe phobia of snakes, and that record in itself was me confronting a lot of my emotional and mental issues and past relationships, and everything that I was afraid of was in that record. And that’s what snakes are for me,” Wolf says.

Wolf also recalls the odd challenge of trying to pin down the meaning of a sound, or to explain in an interview what a group of lyrics should evoke.

“It’s different for me than it is for you, or for anybody else listening to it in different states,” Wolf says. “I don’t think those songs are fixed on a specific point by any means, it’s more of like … a graphic feeling basically.”

For the April 1 show, Beth will be performing as a five-piece for the last time before shifting to a pared-down configuration as a three-piece. And beyond Basic Behaviour, Winnipeggers may witness the treat of some newer work from FRIGS.

“We have two songs that aren’t recorded that we’ve just been playing live, and they kind of change every time we play them. We’re still working out the kinks, and that’s really exciting,” Salmena says. “Songs change, and once you’ve performed them, they’re meant to be performed in a lot of ways, or presented in that kind of ephemeral style where they're just there, and it’s about how we kind of work through it live.”

Catch FRIGS with Beth and Agaptio live at the Good Will Social Club on April 1. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m., tickets are $10 in advance through ticketfly.com.

Published in Volume 72, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 29, 2018)

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